Monday, 28 February 2011

Road rage...again

On my way home friday I see a bus up ahead indicate to pull out, it's quiet so I move out to where the bus driver can see me in his mirror and wave him to pull out, he starts to do so. Just then I hear a car coming up behind, I hear him speed up, passing us and preventing the bus from pulling out. I flap my right arm up and down to signify my annoyance (I may have been holding an imaginary beer bottle at the time) Car goes passed, bus starts to pull out again then has to brake again as the car has pulled in ahead of the bus...uh oh! I tuck in behind the bus but nope the driver has seen me and starts shouting "was that at me? Eh? WAS THAT AT ME?" Oops. "if you can't take a bit of criticism then don't drive like  wanker" was not my response, well not unless I wanted to follow it up with "unhand me you oaf" and "strike me down and I shall become more powerful than you can possi...OUCH" This guy looks a bit of a scrote but he is driving a nice car so he's either well dodgy or he's in the cars, beer and burds neanderthal brigade. Either way that plus the fact that I'm exit strategy deficient in the damp paper bag scenario means I aint squaring up to him. So I do the valiant thing and run away, pavement, 1 way street, exit stage left. Another adrenaline riddled commute ending with sewing machinists jangly leg syndrome. Tool!

But not as much as a tool as this absolute degenerate.

Be kind to your knees you'll miss them when they're gone

Amen, mine appear to be crumbling to dust. Been taking it easy all week but knees are still suffering, on the ibuprofen this week I think. Before anyone says it I doubt it's singlespeeding, my knee pain seems to come and go at varying intervals no matter what I'm riding - eg keilder wrecked them, hope they sort themselves out soon. I also hope the weather sorts itself out, I keep daydreaming of long dusty trails, firm grassy sections and fast hardpack climbs, but no, for now it's still chucking it down. Nipped out yesterday to test my SS, slapped some 120mm forks on and a dinky 45mm stem and it has kind of transformed the ride, downs are a lot more comfortable, ICR was not a problem, front end pops up nicely great for wheelying off drops and hopping stuff. Unfortunately it's also gimped the climbing, bars are higher and nearer so not so much leverage for thrutching up climbs, ho hum. I managed tho up barrow and onto winter hill, 2dogs and wildes were fun but then I died on my arse up bastid climb (mind you there is a good reason for the name) A couple of stops and some pushing! Dunno what was up with me, the rest week didn't help much then. ICR, back up the gardens then blast home on road where I managed to catch and drop a roadie*

*ok not a roadie, a man on a drop barred bike.

Friday, 25 February 2011

Fashion Faux pas

Somehow I managed to put on odd gloves this morning...nightmare.

Mind you not half as bad as yesterday, wet and cold in the morning so waterproof jacket, warm on the way home so instead I put on my bright red lightweight shell I keep at work, and set off. Caught sight of myself in a mirror, with my jacket unzipped halfway, my very open round necked baselayer revealing my chest rug, topped off with a buff meant I looked very, erm....flamboyant.
The tights didn't help either.

Thursday, 24 February 2011

An error in judgement

Nearly threw myself under the wheels of a car this morning, worst mistake I have made on the road in a looooong time. Approaching a big roundabout there's a long line of cars stopped on the cycle lane so I cut down the right hand lane intending to slot in further up the line where the bike lane becomes mandatory (so will be free of cars...yeah right!) it's a big roundabout and has a cycle lane so no matter how busy it is I can normally get on and off without problems using the mandatory bike lane*. Anyway I'm heading down the right lane, no spaces at all then a space appears right at the front, I race forwards to try to get to it but the van next to me floors it too, I'm faster but not quick enough to get into the left  lane properly, I endup charging into the roundabout too fast, too wide and pretty much straight into the path of a car already on the roundabout. Fortunatley he/she saw me and braked I waved apology and again as he/she passed me on the exit. Felt like a right tool, stupid stupid idiot.

I dunno this probably wouldn't have fazed me when I was younger, infact half the incidents I moan about on here probably wouldn't, near misses were still misses - I win. Nowadays I know how to ride "properly" and I know how other road users should treat me, before it was "the road is for cars, i'll just weave around them", now it's "we are all traffic, lets do things properly please". So I get all flustered when people don't give me some common courtesy, ie a bit of room so I don't get hit by a tonne of fast moving metal if I fallover/wobble/breath out and I get more worked up about a driver treating me as a 2nd class road user than I will about someone nearly killing me, education can be a dangerous thing**

*This is fine if you are taking the next exit but if you are taking the 2nd, 3rd or 4th exit the markings indicate you keep to the edge and stop at every exit road and wait for a space to cross it then move on to the next one, daft, instead of getting into the flow of traffic and it being 2 junctions (1 on 1 off) the road planners want to you to negotiate several. Rubbish design.

**education is like a communicable sexual disease, it makes you unsuitable for certain jobs and you feel the urge to pass it on :-)

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Rest week

I'm currently on a not exactly self imposed rest week, sunday no-one was riding but besides I had jobs to do. Back gate frame needed repairing, proper manly stuff, (jig)sawing, drilling, screwing, bolting, nailing etc then unscrewing unbolting un-nailing and doing it all again but properly this time. No-one out last night plus a lack of motivation, no footy this week either. I had planned to do my annual ambleside ride this sunday but thats had to be cancelled. I'll just have to try harder next week.

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Last tuesday wasn't great, on my ay home approaching kearsley roundabout (bit 2 lane job) there's a rescue van parked on the approach so I go round him and take primary in the left lane, queue of cars in the right, just as I'm about to enter the roundabout I hear a car behind, I enter roundabout and hold my lane, after being behind me for a whole 2 seconds driver gets arsey beeps and guns engine and over takes, immediately has to stop before exiting roundabout due to traffic backing up. Passing on his left I ask him what his problem is, he seems to have plenty to say so I move round to his side.
Him: Windowdown shouts something unintelligible windowup
Me: What?

Him: Windowdown "you were in the middle of the road" windowup
Me: I was in my lane, where should I be then?
Him: Windowdown "at the side, out of the way" windowup
I'm left gasping like a grounded fish, unable to articulate the full strength of my feelings on this little exchange without degenerating into expletives, and more than a little peeved with all the window business. I figure I'm onto a loser with this ignoramus cut my losses and move on. As I set off the traffic starts to move, he guns the engine again starts to accelerate with me inches form him, worried about the car glancing me and knocking me over (and I wanted this nob to stop) I lean into the car, as his wingmirror gets knocked back he gets the message and stops, windowdown "IDIOT" windowup, GRRR! I try again, set off get into lane infront of him only to hear him gunning the engine again, afraid he'll try to give me "a little tap" with his 1.5tonne merc I turn and shout at him (stop or no, cant remember) and the Fat Repugnant Ignoramus finally backs off the go pedal. Adrenaline has well and truly spiked now, I want to absolutley nail it all the way home but reign it in a little, I immediately lose FRI due to traffic but I'm keeping a close eye out for him all the way but thankfully no sign.
Got home pretty depressed, some tossers just don't see that cyclists are a good thing. If half or even a quarter of the drivers in front of FRI switched to bikes his journey would be a breeze (plus all the subsidiary benefits to society that FRI probably doesn't care about), of course he'd have to drive attentivley, but newsflash he's supposed to be doing that now. The dismissive if not outright hostile attitude to 2 wheels was what really got to me, plus the subsequent crash from the adrenaline high won't be helping. To cheer me up I made myself a bacon butty and then go out on an xc ride away from nasty car drivers. So quite why I suggested me and Johnnie went over to the nab leaving me with a 12mile road ride home (on a singlespeed) is a bit beyond me, but it sorted my head out. Rivi was damp but not too bad, lead mines beat me, just too muddy and cut up, wrong line etc, excuses excuses. I had meant to go up chorley old road and down barrow bridge but as soon as the road started to rise I realised my legs were shot so spun home on the flat.

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Top Gear

First off squirt lube (don't google it) absolutley brilliant, been using it a while but the last few rides it's really proved itself winter proof too. Quick to apply, doesn't fuzz up in the dry, keeps your chain lubed when it's really filthy but your chain is easy to clean post ride (if you bother) As such it's possibly not up to regular river crossings but unless you ride with the bogtrotters it shouldn't be a problem.  I tend to re-apply before each ride unless it's been dry out, it's quick enough to do. Twenty odd quid for a huuuuge bottle, email and they'll send you a little sample pot that you can keep in your camelbak for emergencies.

After bemoaning the cost of gold star quality water proof pants I bit the bullet, saved my xmas pennies and bought some endura stealth lites. Money well spent, just a pity I didn't stump up more. These are basically waterproof tights and they are ace. I use them with overshoes and basically nothing gets through, on sunday everybody else had wet feet in the first hour except me, my feet were a little damp by the end but still warm and I'm pretty sure it's the overshoes that leaked, postride I even hosed down myself down and no water got through, brilliant. The only problem is I got the tights so they creep down,  I should have got bibs (I normally do) but they were another £30 - would have been worth it tho. I reckon boots with high cuffs like these would negate the need for overshoes too.

Monday, 14 February 2011

That there yorkshire

A nice man called Tony invited a few of us over to sample his local trails, I couldn't be arsed getting my nice bike down from the attic so decided to make do with the mmmbop, since Tuesday tho the bottom bracket had locked solid, oops. So Saturday night I stripped the BB, packed it with grease and forced the inner race around till it was smooth-ish and I was ready, pity the weather wasn't. Si had already arranged to pick me up otherwise I may well have bailed, this was my first big group ride in duff weather and I was worried, riding in the rain is bad enough but with faff and chinwag stops aswell...?
Anyway we pulled into Clapham to see a car park bereft of mtbers, hmm, sat in the car and listened to the rain for a while until Graham turned up on his bike, the rest were round at Tony's. We went round to find a clutch of santa cruz bikes, pity I hadn't brought mine. 8 of us setoff, steep climb out through some tunnels and onto dry stone wall edged double track, like the Stavely stuff from the last lakes ride, wet, lots of puddles but not a lot of mud. We were going at a decent rate, I was having an off day, wheezing my way round so found it OK but not really doing it for me. We got to giggleswick scar and I recognised where I was from the settle ride a couple of years ago, sure enough we climbed and dropped to feizor. Could see loads of swollen waterfalls on the nearby hills. More drystone wall lined trails, singletrack this time, through Warfe, over a river then a huge slippery off camber rock, my back wheel tried braking free a few times but I managed to catch it, just as I got to the end I heard a crash and said "yep, I didn't think we'd all make it across" It was nick (the only other hardtail rider) no damage tho so we went on. Tony's (the other one) freehub exploded so he gibbed out and the rest of us faced "an unholy grind" up onto the base of inglebrough. Wasn't as bad as advertised, tho the bits of limestone poking through the grass were slippy as hell, very confidence inspiring for the limestone pavement that followed. Slightly downhill but muddy and lots of rocks meant it was technical and hard work but I actually managed OK, not quite as well as Dave who, I learned later, was a trials rider, no wonder I couldn't keep up on all the slow speed thrutchy stuff. After that was the highlight of the ride for me, 2 miles of drystone walled singletrack, fast, wet, muddy and slippery but loads of fun, tyres slithering about all over the shop but somehow staying upright, finally I had a big grin on my face! After that we went back the way we had come, down through the tunnels, a very fast blast to finish, pretty scary tearing into the tunnels and suddenly realising you can't see diddly, you're doing 30mph and you're braking with backing plates. Eek! Back to Tony's for tea and lots of cake, Si had brought millionaire shortbread, ultra sugar rush! Thanks to Tony for supplying a cracking route considering the conditions,
and the tea
and a hosepipe for the bikes (and us)
and a nice warm fire.

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

A Reprieve

An impromptu day off coincided with the weather relenting it's slutchy march though winter. Nice mild temps, no cloud and the sun was even out so we nipped up to the strawberry duck and had a walk round turton and entwistle res. Very nice, lots of puddles which charlie liked walking through and a flooded bridge section but hardly a breath of wind and ace views. We got back to the duck for lunch and it was packed, they'd run out of all the posh specials and we only just got our order in before the kitched sent word to postpone orders. I had steak and chips which looked a little plain on it's huge plate, no side salad/veg just a tiny jug of pepper sauce. Turned out to be plenty and just enough sauce too, very nice just not sure it was worth £17. I guess you need to think of it as proper posh resteraunt food rather than pub grub (or just not be a tight arse like me) Mrs had fish and chips, the fish was enormous and she got a vat of peas and homemade tartare sauce, very good. Their fish finger buttie might be a winner for a mid ride top up, I saw one and these weren't any of captain birdseye's lame attempts, these were proper chunks of fish battered and cooked to perfection and chunky chips, cost £5ish which isn't bad if you get chips included, can't remember if you do tho.
Night ride later on with Johnnie and Si, a little colder than expected after the nice day but not too bad. A couple of punctures meant it was a short one, but a good laugh all the same. Is it me or are these social rides actually getting quite, well...sociable? It's not all about the riding, more getting out and having a laugh. Before you know it it'll be like loweys nightrides spending half the night in the pub :-)
I really like my mmmbop now, it is big enough I think, it's just got a short headtube which the internal headset doesn't help with, hence lots of spacers. Climbing is good, seated the front end stays down, on my other bikes the steering gets very light on steep climbs. Apparently Brant worked out the seat tube geometry after riding behind Ton up a long climb. Front wheel doesn't pop up quite easily enough for my liking but swapping the 5" forks for some 6" might sort that, it might also negate the hill climbing part too tho so not sure. Ho hum. The weather broke just as I was cycling up my street, perfect timing, I hope the rain ends soon tho, I want hard pack dusty trails again.

Monday, 7 February 2011

The Whisky Trail Warriors

When I met Mr Sparkle and friends on holcombe moor back in october I was interested in the route they'd done, Mr S offered to show me round his local trails sometime. So yesterday me and Si ventured, with some trepidation (and not just due to the previous 36 hours of rain), into Darwen. It was looking grim but it wasn't raining so the 6 of us kitted up and set off, dave, dave, dave, si, si and just for variety paul. The minute we got off road we were in proper slippery mud, that kind of set the tone for the day. Wind was ripping round us too, a steep tarmac climb from a farm he had a very welcome tailwind and as we got strung out on the climb the gusts would bring the odd snatched word or two from a discussion some 10meteres or so behind "..dy mud.." "..kin steep hi.." :-) Anyway over to hoddleden via the ex-longest train tunnel, through banjo country, over the top of the moors and dropping onto the whisky trail, so called cause so many people in haslingden had their own stills. The whisky had its own distinctive flavour due to the water from the peat, there was certainly lots of watery peat yesterday! Some cool singletracky bits down to the reservoirs, bit of a road section then onto familiar trails. The stone pitched climb up to robin hoods well was hard as ever, me and Mr S had a bit of tortoise and hare race going on, him riding/walking/riding on his SS, me with gears slowly winching up, this time the hare won tho. Headwind all the way along the tops, a new descent from peel tower was much better than my usual route. Along holcombe horseshoe windy and muddy, the climb out was purgatory, the mud was like treacle and a monster headwind, then just we crested the top it switched to a tailwind! We stopped at the strawberry duck where they had many fine ales, apparently, my coke was nice, apologies lowey, I feel I let the bolton contingent down there. They have a mud room, brilliant for winter mtbers, just a pity theres no roaring fire. The last climb up edge fold was going well till I tried to stay on the off camber grass near the top, stall, slip, drop, swear. Then it was just downhill via woodland singletrack to tea and cake and Mr S's. Will be a great route in the dry, probably as part of 3 towers, as it was it was it was still a good day out, not as bad as the weather threatened, only one minor(ish) mechanical no flats or crashes. Only 22 miles/3000ft but the mud and wind made you earn every inch of it. First "proper" ride of the year.

Tuesday, 1 February 2011


SSUK11 will be at Pippingford Park on the 17th/18th Sep. Oh dear. It clashes with the firstborn's birthday and it's 4 and a half hours drive away so I probably aint gonna make it :-(

Ferrys to SSWC cost too much and SSEC would entail about 4 days away so looks like I won't be doing any SS events this year.

Oh and lamest january ever riding-wise.

Well...mostly apples. More self abuse.

After a busy week I still wasn't done wreaking havoc on my body, I went running again on Saturday, I had planned to take charlie on a ride but he slept most of the afternoon so I only had time for a run. Some cheeky beggar has blocked a ROW near me, a wire fence ziptied across a bridge, I've emailed the council, if it's not official I'll have a go at pulling it down. Not as long a run as usual just 45mins, no injuries this time, I think 45mins is about my limit after that I start to get hurt. Rest on Sunday, we went to a christening so spent most of the afternoon chasing Charlie round a social club. Some kids didn't appreciate him trying to hug them either.

Had a leaving do yesterday, nowt big (at the leave-ees request) just a few beers at the pub near work so I rode to work, as often happens a few beers turned into lots of beers and unfortunately the only cider they had was some six point something percent rocket fuel scrumpy, it looked like week old piss but tasted quite nice. I'd started on that expecting us to only be out for an hour or so but as it was I ended up absolutely blootered. Train home where I insisted on cooking tea, wife tried to stop me on the grounds that she didn't want me burning the house down or poisoning us both. I persevered and soon knocked us up some spicy fajitas, shortly before lapsing into incoherent rantings at the TV and the world in general. She left me to it, I woke up on the couch rough as arseholes staggered to bed.
Turns out the scrumpy wasn't just made from apples but also cat piss, rat poison, dog phlegm and all sorts of other stuff intended to rid you of brain cells as fast as possible. All this on a school night too, this morning was unpleasant, I've perked up now but still wont be up for tonight's ride.